Tuesday, January 6, 2015

Old Arizona mission now an historic site

Old mission church at Tumacacori
Religion and government form a compatible partnership at Tumacacori, the site of the first mission in what is now southern Arizona founded by the Jesuit priest, Francisco Kino. Its purpose was to serve the Pima Indians and convert them to Catholicism.

The mission was founded in 1691 under Spanish rule, though Father Kino was born in Italy to a noble family. Today, the mission ruins are a National Historic Site administered by the U.S. National Park Service. A few years later, Father Kino, known as “the padre on horseback,” would establish a mission at San Xavier del Bac, just south of Tucson. That mission is still a working Catholic church. Father Kino was not a permanent priest at either church, but road between all missions in this area, which is how he got his nickname.
Statue of Father Kino at park museum

The mission may have been established in the late 17th century, but it wasn’t until the early 1800s that the crumbling church that sites there now was built. Parishioners wanted their church to be like the one at San Xavier. It was constructed in a style now known as “frontier baroque.”

The mission grounds, which offer a feeling of serenity, also include a cemetery, convent and heirloom orchard. If you’re there at the right time, you can watch as two women prepare tortillas the traditional way.

Tumacacori is located on Interstate 19 that runs between Tucson and Nogales. Take Exit 29 and follow the signs. The park opens daily at 9 a.m. It is closed on Thanksgiving and Christmas days.istorH 

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